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October 18, 2010   Email to Friend 

Farm-City Week Emphasizes 'A Growing Story'
Darryal Ray

As American consumers take more interest in the safety of their food, protection of natural resources and care of animals, farmers increasingly find themselves the target of less-than favorable articles, editorials and movies.

To help encourage factual reporting about production agriculture, volunteers across Alabama have organized a variety of events Nov. 19-25 emphasizing "Agriculture: A Growing Story" in observance of National Farm-City Week.

"With fewer than 2 percent of Americans now living on farms, it's easy for misunderstandings about production agriculture to take root," said Alabama Farm-City Chairman Jeff Helms. "Isolated reports of the mistreatment of animals or food-borne illnesses can cause people to paint all farmers with a broad brush. Sadly, the tremendous accomplishments farmers have made in caring for animals, reducing erosion and increasing productivity often go unreported. Farm-City Week is an opportunity for farmers to share their stories with their urban neighbors and to build trust and confidence in our food supply."

Two of the most popular Farm-City activities are the essay and poster contests. During the first semester of the school year, thousands of children across the state have creatively depicted agriculture's growing story through words and images. The work of these budding writers and artists will be judged at the county level, and winners will go on to compete for cash prizes at the state level. The winning essays in both the seventh- through ninth-grade division and 10th- through 12th-grade division will be featured in the 2012 Alabama Farm-City Calendar along with the top 14 posters from students in grades K-6.

Meanwhile, county Farm-City committees also host banquets, tours, farm days, business breakfasts and other events aimed at fostering cooperation and understanding among urban and rural residents. County and municipal leaders also will sign proclamations declaring the week before Thanksgiving Farm-City Week in Alabama.

At the national level, a symposium featuring media representatives and farm leaders will kick off Farm-City Week Nov. 18 in Lancaster, Pa. The symposium will explore friendly methods that can help assist the urban media when preparing news or feature stories that could significantly and negatively impact farmers.

"Today, the chances of incorrect information on agricultural issues being mistakenly passed to the general public are not only a possibility -- it is a reality that has caused serious financial damage and hardship to farmers, ranchers and others within the industry," says Al Pell, noted national agricultural broadcaster and chairman of the National Farm-City Council. "The goal of this symposium is to consider tools local, state and national agricultural leaders and organizations can use to assure the information obtained by the media is from reliable and credible sources. With a successful merging of efforts with the urban media, we can more confidently be assured accuracy will be paramount in communicating this growing story of agriculture."

The Symposium begins at 10:30 a.m. EST and will continue until noon. Discussions from 11 a.m. until noon will be broadcast live over the nationally syndicated Agri- Talk radio show, hosted by another nationally noted broadcaster, Mike Adams.

National Farm-City Week originated in 1955 when leaders with Kiwanis International, Farm Journal and the American Farm Bureau Federation joined forces to improve the image of agriculture.

Sponsors for Alabama Farm-City activities include Alabama Farmers Federation, Alfa Insurance, Alfa Health, Alabama Ag in the Classroom, Alabama Farmers Cooperative, SunSouth, Snead Ag and TriGreen Equipment John Deere dealers in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

For more information, visit www.farmcity.org. 2011 Farm-City calendars may be ordered at $1 per calendar. A minimum order of 20 copies is required along with a minimum shipping fee of $3. Send checks payable to Alabama Farmers Federation to Alabama Farm-City Committee, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191-0001.



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